Where creativity grows

Tag: #selfcare

A self-care buffet

When the pandemic started, I entered survival mode. I did what I could to just allow myself to put one foot in front of the next. Sometimes that meant cooking elaborate dinners for us. Sometimes that meant baking delicious brownies and eating half the pan in one sitting. Sometimes it meant killing a 10-mile training run in ridiculous temperatures. Sometimes it meant breaking down into a blubbering mess. As the months have worn on the latter has been more frequent and it has been exhausting. Tom and I have talked and talked and talked about what I could do to help me find my center and until the last week or so nothing was helping. Being here in The Oodlearium is truly the only time I feel complete joy and peace, but even lately that has been hard.

Why does any of this even matter and why am I talking about this on a blog about creativity? Stress and depression/anxiety are some of the greatest blockers to creativity. I know that I am not the only one who has felt overwhelmed and this past year has amplified all of those feelings. I often describe my life as juggling 100 plates of fire and then every once in a while someone pours gasoline on it and everything comes crashing down around me. That is not the way I want to go through life. 

During our last post-breakdown chat, Tom was emphatic that I needed to practice daily self-care. That buzzword has always bothered me, because I associate it with yuppy soccer moms who want to justify getting their nails done in the middle of a pandemic. But, I understood his sentiment. I needed to take time for ME to make sure I am good every single day. 

We brainstormed a long list (have I mentioned how obsessed I am with lists?) of ways that I could take care of myself. I wanted to create a buffet of options so that I could pick and choose depending on my mood. I wrote each idea on a notecode and clipped them together with a binder clip. They sit next to my journal in the middle of The Oodle Surface where I see them every single day. Each day when I have practiced my self-care, I jot the date and anything noteworthy on the back of the appropriate card. It has been tremendously helpful and has kept me focused on taking care of myself.

Here are some of the activities on my cards:

  1. Yoga
    1. I LOVE Yoga with Adrienne. She has a video for every situation, but she is also incredibly loving and supportive. I just did her Yoga for Healing video (only 10 minutes) and I felt like a new person.
    2. This Yin Yoga Foundations video is excellent. It is 45 minutes, but it definitely calms my mind and my body.
  2. Meditation
    1. I try counting my breaths and staying focused on my breath. 
    2. I have also started using my hour glass to work on staying focused.
  3. Take an online art class.
    1. I recently purchased a five month subscription to CreativeBug for $5.
    2. There are TONS of classes on YouTube. Consider creating a library that you can go to when you want to watch something later.
  4. Write thank you cards.
    1. This book changed my life. 
    2. Have a stack of thank you cards ready (you can get them super cheap from the Dollar Store) and then you can just write it out quickly.
  5. Do a pour painting.
    1. If you are a regular reader of my This Week in The Oodlearium, you know that I am obsessed with pour painting.
    2. If you need a lesson in letting go, pour painting is a great way to do it.
  6. Take a nap.
    1. Most people go through their lives extremely sleep deprived.
    2. Don’t fight it. Your body is telling you that you need rest.
  7. Get out in nature.
    1. Fresh air ALWAYS helps.
    2. My husband set up a patio shelter last summer to block the harsh afternoon sun. It made such a difference and we spent so much more time outside than normal. 
  8. Index card art.
    1. This idea goes hand in hand with mindful doodling. 
    2. Grab a stack of notecards and a pen and fill the card with a pattern. Go back and color it, if you fancy. Base the doodle around an inspirational quote or even a power word such as strength.
  9. Read.
    1. My husband and I are reading Seth Godin’s newest book The Practice.
    2. We have both been profoundly moved and inspired by his message.
  10. Self-massage.
    1. This book has kept both of us out of the ER multiple times. Daily self-massage can help release the tension that builds up during our chaotic and stressful lives.
    2. Consider investing in a Theragun. We are not a gadget gadget family, but the $199 investment we made in our Theragun last summer has been life changing. As a runner, it has helped with recovery after long training runs, but it helps just loosen up sore muscles from life.

Download a printable copy of my cards here. (This link will force you to make a copy of the document and save to your Google Drive. From there, you can open it in Google Slides and print it out with six or nine slides / page onto card stock.)

Until next time, Oodle on and make sure you are taking care of YOU.

This Week in The Oodlearium

We survived February in Illinois— not without a few scars, but we survived! I am sure I am not the only one grateful to put the last month behind me. This was a low-key week in The Oodlearium in terms of making, but there were lots of ideas churning. Here’s a quick recap:

My good friend Julia told me about Karen Abend’s Sketchbook Revival and on a lark I decided to join in on the fun. One of the pre-sessions was to make your own sketchbook that would be used throughout the workshop. I have always wanted to learn about bookbinding, so I jumped in. I Kiala Giverhand did an awesome job of walking through how to create a simple journal with the supplies you have on hand. I was sure I didn’t have what I needed to make one, but as she went on, I realized I absolutely could make it work. I ended up trying out alcohol ink on watercolor paper for my covers and also adding a ribbon to keep it closed. Kiala had a ton of nuggets of wisdom that I needed to hear:

  • We force ourselves to try and be masters the first time around.
  • This is my first, but not my only.
  • Imperfect is perfect.
  • I transfer my energy into what I create.
  • Show compassion.

Collaboration

Tom and I LOVE when we get the chance to collaborate on a project. It’s not as often as we would like to though. On Friday night he proposed the idea that we come up with a project that utilizes both our skill sets rather than him just helping me with a project or him just teaching me something. Quite a few ideas came out of that conversation and I am super excited!

Patio Table

One of the ideas that we talked about that was a bit more me than him was to create a new custom top for the patio table we built together last summer. Originally I was going to pour paint the planks and then he would epoxy it and reattach. That was becoming a bit cost prohibitive. While walking around Home Depot, we had the idea of creating a custom pattern out of pieces of wood and painting each one and then sealing it. As I type ideas are flooding my brain. Hope you’ll be at the big bbq we want to throw this summer to see it!

Pop Up Art Classes

I am planning to throw a few pop up art classes this summer. Think things like Painting in the Park and Doodling among the Dandelions. If there is something you might like to learn that we can do out in nature, drop me a message.

Music Obsession

Tom and I are currently head over heels in LOVE with the Netflix show Lucifer. I am obsessed with the music in this show— really. Whoever the music director for this show is, s/he is a genius! It is absolutely the kind of music that I would love to have playing in The Oodlearium while I work. I finally found a listing of all the songs this morning, but I have only started going through the process of listening to each one to see which I want to try to add to a Spotify Play list.

CreativeBug

I took my first CreativeBug class this week. It was on creating 3D word art with my new Cricut Maker. I’m excited to try this out over my upcoming spring break. I need to order a few supplies first.

Textile Closeout

Our school ended the textile and clothing program last year and this past week the department held a huge closeout sale of all the goodies in the room. I scored tons of fabric for a whopping $5. I’m super excited to play around with making stuffed animals and a few other things. I already used one of the pieces as a backdrop for my 52F images.

Self-Care

I have not been shy about how much I have been struggling lately as part of our world. There is just too much going on and more often than not it is very overwhelming. On Saturday, Tom and I sat down and created a list (I am most comforted by lists…) of all the ways i could practice self-care. I will write more about ths another day, but one of the ideas I am most excited about is Index Card Art. It is exactly what it sounds like…create something on a 3×5 (or 4×6) notecard. 

52Frames

Last week’s theme was details and I was not feeling inspired. The image I submitted was a commitment shot— a shot to keep my 166-week streak going. That’s ok though. I showed up and I will show up again this week.

This week’s theme was negative space and I am super excited about my image. I did not realize it until after I was done how much it was inspired by the painter Callen Schaub, whom I follow on Instagram. 

#sketchbookrevival

#karenabend

#kialagiverhand

#pourpaintfurniture

#collaboration

#lucifernetflix

#music

#popupartclass

#selfcare

The Personal Offsite

My husband and I are avid fans of the Tim Ferriss podcast where in each episode, Tim interviews world-class performers from eclectic areas to tease out the tactics, tools, and routines you can use. His wide ranging conversations include favorite books, morning routines, exercise habits, time-management tricks, and much more. In early 2019 Tim interviewed Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism the Disciplined Pursuit of Less. 

While their conversation covered a myriad of topics, my husband and I honed in on the idea of a “quarterly personal offsite.” You are probably familiar with the concept of the annual review—  an opportunity to reflect on your performance over the last year and set goals for the upcoming year.  Despite their ubiquity, few people find the annual review helpful.  What if you dedicated some time on a regular basis away from home and work to check in with where you have been and where you are going in your life? McKeown calls it a quarterly personal offsite based on the idea that “every three months you take three hours to identify the three things you want to accomplish over the next three months.”

We were all in. Our goal was to evaluate where we were at in our lives and look forward without the distractions of our every day lives. I found us a quaint AirBnb in Durango, Iowa. The description promised the perfect place to get away from the world and unwind. Now just to set the ground rules for the weekend. 

  • No technology. Even if we did not come away with any clear direction forward we knew that a digital detox would be beneficial. The cabin was remote enough that there was no cell service or wifi.
  • Although the cabin did have sattelite TV, we did not want to fall into our old routine of wasting hours watching shows.
  • This was not a vacation. We were not going somewhere to sightsee or dine out. Our cabin had a small kitchen and we brought the fixings for simple meals. We would spend our time reading, writing, talking, meditating, doing yoga, hiking, or relaxing. 
  • We brought stacks and stacks of notebooks, post-it notes and pens. 

As soon as we arrived we knew we had selected the perfect location. The cabin was remote enough to feel like we were away from the world, but well appointed so that we were comfortable. We both did a lot of reading, writing and talking about our lives— where we were and where we wanted to go. After hours and hours of writing, I started to transfer my main ideas to post-it notes so that I could more easily sort and organize what I had uncovered. Tom followed a similar system. After two days we felt reenergized and extremely hopeful about the future. It was absolutely one of the best decisions we have ever made. We had clear action items to address when we returned home and a promise to reconvence in three months to check in again. 

About six months later, we decided to schedule another off-site to a different location. In the months since our initial “event” we had made a lot of changes in our lives. We were much more positive and upbeat about how life was going. That made the workshopping aspect of the weekend a bit more challenging, because we felt we were on the right path already. This weekend was less successful. We returned home a day early and resumed our lives.

Fast forward to last summer (2019) when we went on a driving trip around the Great Lakes. It was fourth of July weekend and our home for the next two days was a beautiful cabin in Chassell, Michigan. As soon as we walked into the cabin, we decided to put our vacation on pause for a few days and have another personal offsite. This one was much more similar to the first one— lots of writing, reading, talking and self-discovery. I honestly think the second one was a fluke and perhaps much too forced. 

What we have learned from the personal offsites:

  1. Taking the time to make your life is a priority is incredibly powerful. 
  2. If you get nothing out of the offsite other than a digital detox it is worthwhile. 
  3. Selecting your location with the intention of making the most of the experience is vital. These trips are not about sightseeing, dining out or even adventures.
  4. It helped to sort through all that was overwhelming us and focus on the 3-4 items that were most important to us over the next 2-3 months.  We left with clear action items.
  5. We left incredibly reenergized and most importantly more hopeful about the future.

My goals for the weekend were not creativity minded in general, but the positive effects of the weekend would have still held true. Checking out of the universe for a few days and getting away from the grind absolutely will free your mind and allow it to resume making unique connections between ideas. Stepping away from the constant barrage of negativity will give your heart and your mind some much needed rest and an opportunity to revitalize itself. You have an opportunity to hone your focus for your future giving you a much greater feeling of control.

I cannot recommend this experience highly enough!

© 2021 The Oodlearium

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Follow by Email
Twitter
Visit Us
Follow Me
Instagram